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Getting a great pick tone?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by 1987, Dec 18, 2006.


  1. 1987

    1987

    Jun 17, 2006
    Hi,

    I really want to get my pick chops happening, but I keep running into brick walls. The sound I aspire to would be that of old school P-bass pick players like Bob Daisley. My current attempts have led me to the following problems/questions.

    - should the pick be held so that there is a slight give when I make an down or up stroke or should it be held tight enough so that it does not move?

    - should the angle at which the pick hits string change between up strokes and down strokes? I currently have an unwanted scrape to my sound.

    - my palm muting sounds bad when. My down strokes have a certain degree of fatness in sound, but my up strokes sound 'uhhh'.

    - should I tilt my wrist in towards the bass slightly or let it sit where gravity sends it?

    It seems like such a simple thing for most, but the humble pick is causing me much drama. If anyone can help me out, I would really appreciate it.

    Thanks.
     
  2. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
  3. Skel

    Skel

    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    You should hold the pick tightly at first. Later on you'll naturally hold it just tight enough so you don't loose it. Use a heavy pick, not thin or medium. The scraping you're hearing is the side edge of the pick against the strings - work on striking the string with the pointy tip of the pick. It would probably help you to use only down strokes for a while. All the "leaning / tilting" questions...that happens naturally by doing it a million times.
     
  4. Skel

    Skel

    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    One more thing. Rest the heal of your picking hand someplace so your hand is anchored, kind of like you might rest your thumb while playing fingerstyle. I rest my heal behind the bridge, but just get it out of the way someplace.
     
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Skel, that is a dangerous way to play that can end up causing crippling hand pains. I know firsthand. Don't anchor your hand. Also, using only downstrokes will cause your hand to get pains as well. You should always alternate up and down. Personally, I like the sound of all downstrokes, but it's a damaging way to play.

    Go to Carol Kaye's website and learn her technique. That is all you need to know about playing with a pick in a way that won't damage your hand.

    Now for 1987's questions:

    Hold it so it won't move, but don't use a death grip on it.

    Work on making your angle to where it hits flat against the strings and not scrape.

    Palm muting is a sure-fire way to cause crippling hand pains eventually. so if you do it, do it sparingly.

    Again, carolkaye.com has tips about her picking style, and if you care about your hand, learn it and don't deviate in the least.
     
  6. BrandonBass

    BrandonBass

    May 29, 2006
    well i seriously doubt that all downstrokes would be damaging, if not most of the professional punk players + james hetfield would have to retire due to injuries.

    But i still reckon you strictly alternate pick unless at slow tempo
     
  7. Ten Four One

    Ten Four One

    Dec 5, 2006
    Up strokes sound naturally different from down strokes.

    I like a little scrape in my sound.

    Experiment with different picks.
     
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    James Hetfield is a guitarist. Big world of difference.

    Brandon, all I can tell you is that when I was younger, I used all down strokes when I used a pick. I could do it all night. Now that I'm older, if I try to do all downstrokes for more than a minute, my hand and wrist start aching something fierce. So I worked on my technique to where the only way you could tell if I was doing upstrokes is by watching me.
     
  9. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    Anchoring is bad. It gives you too much tension.

    Damaging or not, all downstrokes is just plain inefficient. You won't get good at upstrokes if you never do them. The goal is to get an even sound from both up and downstrokes. This takes a while to master, so don't get discouraged. It's best if you don't really have a slant at all, but only use the tip of the pick.
     
  10. 1987

    1987

    Jun 17, 2006
    The problem with no pick slant is that my pick seems to get stuck momentarily on the upstroke. Plus it seems to put my wrist in an awkward position.
     
  11. ed khalimba

    ed khalimba platinum member

    Dec 24, 2005
    whatever way you play, just try your hardest to be relaxed about it. if you can stay relaxed, you'll probably be able to develop techniques that encompass all the different things you seem to be having problems with that can give you different playing styles you will be able to use. there really isn't only one "right" way to play.
     
  12. I am in no way an excellent pick player, but I can do it efficiently. At first I could only do downstrokes, and sloppily, but then I got tired of playing Tool songs with my fingers (didn't sound right) so I learned prison sex with a pick (there is a video on youtube of someone playing it) and it really helped my picking. I was still doing all downstrokes, but one day I was playing and accidentally upstroked, and just thought to myself "Oh, so that's how you do that", and in a couple days down and ups just came naturally.

    Best advice I can give is just try a song you like to play picking to the best of your ability, and eventually just start including upstrokes where needed.
     
  13. Human Bass

    Human Bass

    Aug 26, 2005
    She plays an ibanez srx700....interesting!
     
  14. ric1312

    ric1312 Banned

    Apr 16, 2006
    chicago, IL.

    James hetfield does not use all downstrokes, how the hell would he do all those triplets on the e string?
     
  15. Tired_Thumb

    Tired_Thumb Guest

    The "James Hetfield" in question is likely Jason Newstead, and yes, he plays straight downstrokes whenever he can, a technique he developed when he was learning to play without an amp.
     
  16. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Jason Newsted is not a bassist with great technique.
     
  17. BrandonBass

    BrandonBass

    May 29, 2006
    play with a slant man, i saw a video by paul gilbert awhile. he said that playing with a slant can make u faster
     
  18. If you're referring to slanting the pick towards the headstock, yes and no. If you turn it so that it "slices" the string rather than hitting flat it will be a bit easier to pick. This is extremely helpful on the guitar. On the bass I've found that the strings are thick enough that using only the tip of the pick (like you should anyway) lets it glide over the strings just as easily. With the added fact that slanting the pick on the bass can make more scraping sounds than otherwise, it's a take-it-or-leave it bass technique in my book.
     
  19. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    Err what? My teacher told me Newsted plays up/down and has great technique. When he joined Metallica they told him to play all down, but now that he's gone he's back to playing up/down again.
     
  20. That's Metallica in general. Downpicks sound heavier, so they use downpicks whenever they can. By the time it gets faster enough for them to use alternate picking, the sound doesn't matter much as it's too fast to tell.
     

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